May 13, 2016


It's hard to challenge a student without overwhelming them. It's especially hard to find that middle ground when students have anxiety.

Today was the first Friday where it really felt like summer was coming. We've had a lot of rain and some unseasonably cold temperatures. Continuing with the school routine felt normal, until this week. Today the whole building was squirrely. Seniors only have two weeks left so tensions are high for that group as they scramble to finish everything in time. The rest of the building has a full month and a half remaining so teachers are frustrated that students are shifting into summer mode while simultaneously we're all also looking forward to the weekend. I didn't teach before lunch today (my lunch is at 10:30) but half my colleagues were already at wits end by then. I survived the block after lunch but pretty quickly into the last block of the day I felt the tensions increasing. One student after another was asking to take a break. One student asked to take a second break immediately after taking his first break and that was my breaking point. Usually I praise this student for knowing when he needs to step away, but today he needed the opposite lecture - sometimes you have to push through. I told the class that no one really wanted to be here right now, and it was making me really grumpy too. But together, we were going to push through! The pep talk and a lot of prompting got us through a couple questions but then they'd all shut down and I was getting frustrated that no one would answer my question and everyone kept asking to leave despite my repeated statement that we needed to get through this first. Thankfully I stopped. And took a breath. And told them all to close their eyes and take a breath. A student remembered a breathing video we'd done before and asked to do that. I was so happy he remembered and suggested it!! We watched point of focus with the lights off. I allowed the silence to stretch out for a few more moments and then asked them to make the next question their point of focus. We got through it. Everyone finished the minimum goal I set for the day. Some students surpassed it. We all survived. And now it's the weekend! Send calming energy and videos or audio we can use when we all need a break because June 27th is a really long time to spend with students who aren't in math mode, especially ones with anxiety for whom the space between bored and overwhelmed can be really hard to find. 

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